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Home Medical Transcription - A Decent Living or a Scam?

No doubt you have seen many ads by medical transcription schools claiming that you can make big money typing medical transcription at home. Can you really make a good living doing medical transcription at home, or is it just another scam? In this article, you'll learn the honest facts about home medical transcription.

Can you really make a decent living doing home medical transcription? Yes and no.

Yes - Many people are earning $50,000 to $80,000 or more per year typing medical transcription at home. They work where they want, when they want, and as much as they want. The amount of medical transcription work that needs to be done FAR exceeds the available transcribers to do the work. When I say the demand exceeds the supply, I mean the situation is desperate.

No - Reading a few booklets and listening to a few tapes will not make you into an instant $50,000 per year medical transcriptionist. If you're not ready to commit to between six months and a year of hard study and practice, find another means of earning a living.

Typing medical transcription is not like typing a letter to your mother. It's far more challenging. Below are some of the challenges you must be prepared to meet.

1. You must have a good understanding of medical terminology. You need to know how to spell the names of the latest medical conditions, drugs, medical tests, treatments, and procedures, and just knowing how to spell them is not enough. Because of challenge number 2 described below, you need to have some familiarity with medical conditions and what tests, drugs, and treatments are related to that condition. It's difficult to learn this with a mail order medical transcription course. This type of knowledge comes from experience.

You don't need to be familiar with ALL medical terminology. Many transcriptionists specialize in specific areas such as gastroenterology or ophthalmology. However, when you want to go on vacation, you'll need someone else to take over your work while you're gone. In reciprocation, you'll need to cover for someone else when they go on vacation, and they may be transcribing to a different field than you are familiar with.

2. You need to be able to extract the transcription from a noisy electronic recording. Unfortunately, many doctors mumble, garble, don't enunciate, don't speak up, or talk too fast when they dictate. Combine the above problems with a thick, foreign accent and you can have real dificulty understanding what the doctor is saying. In many instances, the only way you will be able to decipher what the doctor is saying is if you are familiar with medical conditions and what tests, drugs, and treatments are related to that condition.

Doctors dictate "on the fly". They don't have time to think about proper sentence construction as the words emanate from their mouth. Frequently the sentence they started doesn't make any sense or has an error by the time they get to the end. Do you edit what the doctor said, or just type the jiberish as dictated? Usually a doctor appreciates when you clean up their dictation. On the other hand, medical document are often presented as evidence in legal actions. You're taking on liability if you change what the doctor actually said.

Many transcriptionists have their own group of doctors that they type for and eventually become familiar with the idiosyncracies of each doctor. This makes understanding what they are saying much easier; however, when you go on vacation, someone else will need to cover the doctors while you're gone. In reciprocation, you'll need to cover for someone else when they go on vacation. You won't be familiar with how the doctors dictate.

3. To make the earnings cited above, you need to be able to sit and type for long hours. You need to isolate yourself from the noise and distraction of other human beings (and some pets) and pound on that keyboard hour after hour. As I stated earlier, the amount of medical transcription work available far exceeds the available transcribers to do the work. Some transcriptionists let greed take control of them and sit at the computer for 16 hours seven days per week. They get accustom to a $100,000 a year lifestyle. But what does it do for their health?

Medical transcription companies charge more for "fast turn around". Some pass part of this money onto the transcriptionist, others just demand the work get done immediately. In either case, fast turn around work prevents you from controlling your own working hours.

Now that I've discouraged you, the fact is that many medical transcriptionists do work where they want, when they want, as much as they want, and earn a respectable living. If you're up to the challenge, how do you became a medial transcriptionist?

Training

You'll need to be proficient in the use of a computer. You'll need to be a fast typist. If you can't type as fast as the doctor dictates, you'll be working hard with the foot pedal to move back and forth in the recording. You must be comfortable using a Word Processing application such as Microsoft Word or Workperfect. You'll need to know how to format documents and how to use macros. If you don't use macros you'll be typing the same phrases over and over.

If you decide to sign up for a medical transcription course, make sure the course provides plenty of authentic dictations. You cannot become a medical transcriptionist by just reading medical terminology. You need to hear it spoken. Just listening to terms being pronounced is of limited use. You need to hear the terms used in a sentence. Simulated medical dictations are fine, but you need some practice with actual medical dictations.

Find a course that teaches basic anatomy and physiology along with terminology.

The best way to learn

The best way to learn is with on-the-job training. If you have a doctor friend or family member who does dictations, ask them if you can transcribe a low-priority dictation for practice. If you're working at a clinic or hospital as a secretary or receptionist, investigate how the transcription gets done and volunteer to help.

Start out with a specific type of transcription such as letters or office notes in specific specialities. As you get more experience, your speed will improve and you can branch out into other types of transcriptions for other specialties.

The amount of medical transcription work that needs to be done far exceeds the available transcribers to do the work. Yes, you can make a decent living doing home medical transcription. You can work where you want, when you want, and as much as you want. But, medical transcription is an occupation only for those who are prepared to meet the challenge.

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